When you go to a club or party, you might scan the room for your friends, the bar, or the nearest restroom to reapply your lip gloss or relieve your bladder from the pre-game. It’s not likely that you scan the room to discover the source of the music blaring out of the speakers. DJing is a thankless art form in this way — they are doing their best work when you hardly notice them because you’re so lost in the music. This ability to literally move a group of people has a rich history that is rapidly changing under the influence of the world wide web and the apps we’ve created from it.
If you watched the Netflix original series The Get Down, then you know that the art blending tracks and scratching records in order to create a unique sound originated as one of the first pillars of hip-hop in 1970s New York City. Before the internet, DJs would have to lug crates full of heavy records and equipment to every gig and handpick the records they wanted to play one by one. A lot has changed since then.
In the age of playlists, auxiliary cords, and predictive technology that can stream an endless number of songs you might like based on your listening history, it’s really easy to overlook the work that goes into learning how to properly curate a vibe. And even though the actual 1’s and 2’s — a universal nickname for turntables — are quickly becoming a thing of the past thanks to DJs' ability to find their tracks on MacBooks, setting the mood for an amazing party still requires skill.
Keeping all of this in mind, I reached out to three women who are keeping the art of DJing alive. Read on to find out what it’s really like to be a female DJ, how the craft has changed, and what they really think about your song requests.